Chrysler Group’s resurgent 2014 continues as the automaker steamrolled through its best August in 12 years.
August sales for Chrysler surged 20% over last year, smashing analysts’ expectations for 12% growth. The company on pace to increase annual sales by 14% from 2013.
With dealerships eager to move their existing stock of 2014 models and customers lining up for newly available 2015 cars, August is traditionally the last major hurrah for auto sales. Chrysler has taken advantage of this plus a smouldering SUV and truck market to get the jump on its competitors.
Chrysler’s Jeep and RAM truck brand account for much of the company’s surge with August sales up 49% and 39% respectively. “Trucks and SUVs are hot right now and they are perfectly positioned to take advantage of this,” Kelley Blue Book senior editor Karl Brauer told Business Insider. “The RAM truck product refresh has been aggressive and successfully done. Jeep’s new Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models hae really resonated with the public in a way that a Chrysler product has not been able to for a long time.”
Their are also signs of life in from Chrysler Group’s ever-struggling car brands. Although 2014 sales are down 9% compared to 2013, the company’s Chrysler brand finally saw positive sales growth in August with an increase of 4%. Much of this growth can be attributed to the arrival of the highly lauded 2015 Chrysler 200 mid-sized sedan that will compete with industry titans like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
Although Chrysler Group have shown their ability to turn out competitive SUVs and Trucks prior to their merger with Fiat, their car brands have not had a good track record in producing competitive products.
“Chrysler haven’t had a competitive mid-size sedan in more than a decade,” added Brauer. “The 200 serves as a validation of the Chrysler-Fiat merger. These new car models have been strenghtened due to Fiat.”
However, all of the news coming from Chrysler has not been positive. It’s bread and butter Dodge brand is down 6% in August and 3% for the year. Even in the hot selling SUV market, the brand’s highly rated Durango SUV is down 8%. Unfortunately, a big reason for the Durango struggles comes from the success of its Jeep stablemates, said Brauer. The Jeep brand and products are so strong that it’s effectively cannibalised some of the Durango’s sales.
On the Fiat side, the brand’s 500L mini-people carrier has been decimated by a July recall due to faulty airbags. Sales for the models plummeted a whopping 97% in August – selling just 33 cars in the U.S.
Every company has its problems. But not every company is delivering double-digit sales growth.